University of Texas football fans have been living in two worlds this season.
For as much as Texas has struggled in the on-the-field world, losing four of its last five games, the Longhorns have remained dominant in the recruiting realm.
Despite not gaining a single commitment since August, Mack Brown still has amassed the top current recruiting haul in the class of 2011 according to the CBS College Research Rankings. It's a balanced, deep crop of 23 recruits comprised mostly of the top players in the Lone Star State.
But following a 30-22 home loss to Baylor, is it possible that worlds will collide for the Longhorns, and Brown's stellar recruiting will begin to be affected by his team's less-than-stellar performance?
So far, the answer appears to be a resounding "No."
Texas has yet to have a 2011 recruit decommit. Most have been on board since February, when the staff runs its extremely fruitful Junior Days. Brown has created a brand and image of Texas football that appears strong enough to withstand the Longhorns' disappointing 2010 campaign, at least for now.
"UT has been my favorite college since I moved down to Texas in the fourth grade," said Stevens (San Antonio)
athlete Mykkele Thompson
, who is committed to Texas. "I always told myself that I would do anything to have the opportunity to play for them."
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Thompson has scored 26 touchdowns through six games, but will likely find himself in the secondary at Texas. The Longhorns' 4-4 record has not deterred him.
"Every team has struggled," he said. "Texas is still young. I am still firmly committed."Cedar Hill (Texas)
head coach Joey McGuire, who has sent a player to Texas in each of the last three seasons, has seen no shift in how recruits perceive the Longhorns.
"I know any of my kids that would have the opportunity to go there would jump at it," he said.
McGuire also suggested that Texas' performance on the field might actually be of some benefit, as top recruits could see potential openings for early playing time.
Hank Carter, head coach at Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)
, the alma mater of Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, also thinks that Texas' recruiting will not drop off.
"I don't think that Coach Brown and his staff will miss a beat in recruiting," he said. "A couple of losses isn't going to change what the program is."
Carter said that Lake Austin offensive lineman Taylor Doyle
remains firmly committed to Texas.
That seems to be the prevailing sentiment among players who have already given their verbal commitment. But could Texas' struggles have a different impact on current juniors in the class of 2012?Cayleb Jones
, an acrobatic receiver who will be one of the state's top recruits next season, doesn't think so.
Asked if Texas' struggles might affect their standing with 2012 targets, Cayleb said, "Not at all. They're still an elite program, have great academics, people and coaches."
Jones will be interesting to watch on an individual level, however. Despite playing just 10 minutes from Texas' campus, Jones lists Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Miami as the schools recruiting him most heavily — not Texas.
Longhorns fans have long been weary of Jones' ties to the Hurricanes, as his father has a good relationship with head coach Randy Shannon.
Other top recruits who could land elsewhere for various reasons that seem to have little to do with Texas' wins and losses include linebacker
, Curtis Riser
, and Johnathan Gray
David has already committed to Texas Tech. Riser, one of the top underclassmen at his position nationally, could follow DeSoto (Texas)
teammate Marcus Hutchins to Austin, but there's a chance he ends up at LSU with Evan Washington, a DeSoto graduate.
Gray, the MaxPreps National Sophomore of the Year last season, is having another phenomenal season. He's compiled 1,943 yards and 34 scores.
Texas is certainly involved in Gray's recruitment. He's the son of James Gray, former Texas Tech running back, and he'll likely receive significant interest from out-of-state suitors as well. Put simply, Gray-to-Texas is far from guaranteed.
If the pattern holds, only Texas Tech or another school will prevent Gray to ending up in Austin. Texas' sub-par 2010 season should not be a factor.